Rates of violence against ER nurses high; prevention policies effective: survey

October 28, 2010

The rates of violence against emergency room nurses remain at 8-13 percent, according to a recently released survey of 3,211 nurses conducted by the Des Plaines, IL-based Emergency Nurses Association. Additionally, more than half of the nurses surveyed reported experiencing physical or verbal abuse at work in the past seven days.

Physical violence occurred in patients' rooms 80 percent of the time. Triaging, restraining or performing invasive procedures were the most frequently reported activities among nurses who reported violence.

Rates of violence were lower at hospitals that instituted violence policies. The incidence rate was 8.4 percent at hospitals with a zero-tolerance policy, 12.3 percent at hospitals with a non-zero-tolerance policy and 18.1 percent at hospitals with no violence policy.

A reduction in violence rates also was seen at hospitals with additional safeguards such as panic buttons, security signs, enclosed nurse's stations and well-lit areas. ENA is urging OSHA to make its guidelines for preventing violence into a mandatory standard.